I do not own CW's Beauty and the Beast or any of the characters.

Chapter 8 – Confessions

Playlist: A Fine Frenzy – Ashes and Wine

Catherine looked out the window, her face pale and drawn. She hugged herself with her arms, hoping to capture some of the heat from the room for herself. The beautiful white snow had changed, turning into something dark and ugly. The world outside the window was grey and everything looked dead.

"I know what you need," Heather chirped from the sofa. She was sprawled on the couch, filing her fingernails. Her feet were propped up on the coffee table so her toenails could dry. Catherine did not turn around from her station in front of the window.

"Yeah? What's that?" she asked, uninterested in the answer. She knew what she needed. He just wasn't hers to need anymore.

"A New Year's Eve party!" Heather exclaimed. Her enthusiasm was not contagious. Catherine continued to look out onto the bleak December day below. She raised her eyebrow at the translucent pane of glass in front of her. A party was absolutely the last thing she wanted. Or needed.

"No, Heather. I definitely don't want a party," Catherine sighed. The last few weeks had taken their toll on her. She was tired and agitated and depressed.

"Cat, I'm really worried about you. You've changed since the hospital," Heather got off the couch and shuffled to stand in front of Catherine. "Something is going on that you're not telling me about. What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Heather. I just got run off the road, shot by some psycho and almost killed," Catherine said, sarcastically. "If that isn't enough to "change" someone, I don't know what is."

"You're like a different person. You never used to talk to me this way before. I feel like I don't know you anymore and I don't like it. What is it, Cat? What's wrong? Just tell me." Heather pleaded, hurt causing tremors in her voice.

Catherine turned around and faced her sister. She looked closely into Heather's face and saw the emotional toll these last few weeks had taken on her sister. There were dark circles under her eyes and her cheeks looked pinched. Heather's eyes were glistening with unshed tears. Catherine sighed. "I'm sorry, Heather. I didn't realize. It's just…"

"Cat, I'm your sister. I'm here for you. What's bothering you?" Heather was extremely earnest. Catherine suddenly wanted to tell her everything. It had been so long since she had been able to speak freely with someone other than Vincent. She was tired of secrets.

"Look, Heather, let's sit down for a moment."

"I knew it! I knew there was something going on. Is it something with work? Did you have a fight with Tess? Is it Evan? Cat, do you like Evan?" It didn't take much encouragement for Heather to come alive with theories.

Catherine sighed and took a breath to steel herself for this conversation. She wasn't quite sure what to tell her sister. She obviously couldn't tell her everything, but how much was enough? She couldn't risk alienating her any further. "OK. Here it is."

"It's Evan, isn't it? Did you two get it on the night he came here for dinner? You're together. You love him!"

"No, Heather. It's not Evan," Catherine rolled her eyes. "What is it with everyone and Evan? Just because I work with a single, smart, attractive guy does not automatically mean I like him. It doesn't mean he's meant for me."

"Certainly sounds like it," muttered Heather, under her breath. "Well, what is it then? Is it a guy?"

Catherine blushed and lowered her head.

"I knew it!" exclaimed Heather. "Who is it? Tell me everything!"

"OK. There is a guy," Catherine exhaled sharply. This was not going to be easy. "I met him…through work. But it's complicated and he's got issues and I…well, I'm not the easiest person to be with. It's been a while since I was in a healthy relationship. I don't know if I even remember how."

"What's his name?"

"Heather, I just…I don't really want to go into too much detail. It's too soon and I'm not sure if it's…real yet. It's still new, you know?"

"Is it that Vincent guy?" Heather asked. Catherine's heart skipped a beat. How did she know? "You know, the one from the wedding. Vincent Zalanski?"

"Oh, no, Heather," Catherine exhaled in a rush. "I really did make him up. This is someone else and it's too soon for me to talk about it in too much detail. Especially now."

"Cat, what happened? Something must have happened, because you have been miserable lately."

"Well, we just started to…you know, move towards something and his ex showed up," Catherine swallowed painfully.

"What? No! So…what happened?"

"Well, she's his ex-fiancé. He hasn't seen her in ten years and I'm pretty sure he still has feelings for her," Catherine confessed in a rush. Her eyes filled with tears and she blinked furiously to clear them.

"Oh, no," Heather covered her mouth with her hand. "My poor Cat. What are you going to do now?"

"Well, I told him to go and sort his feelings out. I said that I didn't want to see him until he figured it out. I don't want to be his second choice. If he's going to be with me, I want it to be because I'm the one he wants, not because I'm all that's left. I don't really expect to hear from him again."

"Well, he's stupid if he picks someone other than you. I'm glad you put your foot down, though. Good for you. This sucks!" Heather leaned over and hugged her sister. "You know what you need?"

"No. But I bet I could guess…" Catherine said, chagrined. "Heather…."

"Come on, Cat. Just let me throw a New Year's Eve party. You won't have to do anything. And I'll invite some guys."

"Heather! I don't want anyone else," Catherine realized what she'd just said. "I, uh…I think that I love him."

"Oh, my. It is serious. Just think, Cat…if we threw the party, it would keep your mind off of your situation. Come on." Heather's face was alive with excitement. Catherine knew she was in trouble.

"Fine," she conceded. She knew she was making a big mistake. "Just close friends and family, though. No guys! I don't think I could handle it. Not too many people. Please?"

"Trust me."

"Why do I feel like those are famous last words? Just a few people. Promise?"

"Oh, Cat. You worry too much," Heather said, rolling her eyes. "It'll be fun, I promise!"

"OK. A party sounds…great," Catherine lied. At least it would take her mind off of things for a little while. And Heather was happy. That would have to be enough.

xxxxx

"I'm going out!" Heather called from her bedroom.

"Where are you going?" Catherine asked. She was sitting on the sofa, aimlessly flipping through a magazine. Her wound was itchy and throbbing and she felt restless. She couldn't settle into any one activity for very long.

"To get some stuff for the party." Heather's voice sounded muffled, "maybe a new outfit. Do you want to come?"

"Not this time, Heather," Catherine sighed. She was in no mood to battle New York shoppers at the end of December. She looked horrible and she felt even worse. She also didn't want to give Heather the opportunity to question her further about her "new guy."

"Do you want anything?" Heather asked, walking into the living room. She zipped up her coat and tied a scarf around her neck. Her eyes betrayed the worry she felt for her sister.

"No, I'm alright."

"What are you going to do while I'm gone?" Heather asked.

"I don't know. Watch TV," Catherine was bored just saying it. She looked around the apartment. Their housekeeping standards had slipped quite a bit since she had been in the hospital. "Maybe tidy up a bit. Get ready for the party. This place could use it."

"I don't know, Cat. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Maybe you should have a warm bubble bath. Or, better yet, a nap."

"You make me sound like an old lady. I think a bit of activity would do me good."

"Well, just don't lift anything. Leave all of the dirty stuff to me." Heather leaned over and gave Catherine a quick hug. "Bye!"

Catherine stood up from the couch and started collecting some of the dirty dishes lying around. Heather wasn't much for cleaning, but Catherine usually managed to keep the place relatively neat. However, since she'd returned home from the hospital, she'd done absolutely nothing.

After a couple of trips from the living room to the kitchen sink, she poured some soap into the basin, ran the hot water and started washing dishes. The repetitive nature of the activity soothed her. She tipped the soapy dishes onto the drying rack, dried her hands and looked around for something else to do. She was fine as long as she didn't stop to think.

Catherine opened the balcony door a crack to let some fresh air in and she started puttering around the living room. She straightened the pillows on the couch, folded the blankets and picked up newspapers and magazines from the floor.

Heather's magazines were everywhere! She gathered as many as she could carry and dumped them on Heather's bed. After the third trip to Heather's room, Catherine noticed that there were still more magazines on top of the TV stand. It seemed like most of Heather's disposable income was spent on fashion and lifestyle magazines. Catherine chuckled to herself.

She lifted a badly stacked pile from the TV stand and carried them towards Heather's room. There were too many of them and they were balanced precariously. They tipped out of her arms and onto the floor. Catherine exhaled sharply and carefully bent to pick them up.

While she was kneeling on the floor she saw a little package wrapped in pretty red and white Christmas paper lying among the magazines. She didn't recognize it at all. She picked it up, turned it over and saw a red bow and her name written on the paper in black pen. Her heart skipped a beat. She knew that writing.

She sat back on her heels and placed the small parcel gingerly on her lap. She took a deep breath and started to open it. Her hands shook as she gently pulled the tape from the paper. She slipped her fingers under the edges, smoothed them open and pulled out the small black box within.

Catherine grasped the edges of the box and opened it. She inhaled sharply and covered her mouth with her hand.

A/N – Thursday, Thursday, Thursday! It's finally here! I'm not so sure about what we're in for tonight, though… (Jan. 31/13)

Thank you for all of your lovely words and reviews. Your support keeps me writing!

Check out my new story: a one-shot (my first) called "Forever." You'll need some tissue for this one! Please read it and let me know what you think! xA